When professional baseball player Ichiro Suzuki was approaching a huge career milestone of 3000 hits in Major League Baseball (MLB), his sponsor Mizuno contacted Atlanta-based photographer Ryan Gibson to create a tribute that would show off this incredible achievement.
Ichiro has been with Mizuno since he started his professional career in Japanese professional baseball, and they have continued to sponsor him throughout his career in the MLB. Ryan is a huge fan of baseball and was excited to be a part of this project highlighting a great athlete.
The shoot was difficult to plan because there aren’t many days off in baseball, and Ichiro was in the middle of the season. Luckily, around the time the shoot needed to get done, Ichiro’s team, the Marlins, were scheduled to play in Atlanta, which happens to be where Mizuno’s headquarters are.
Ryan worked with Mizuno’s creative director, John Petri throughout the project, who was able to secure permission to use Turner Field before one of the games. Together, they came up with a shot list and planned to do the shoot a few hours before one of the games.
On the day of the shoot, they arrived early and had access to an unused locker room to set up and get a few images of Ichiro’s jersey. They then waited in the dugout for Ichiro to arrive so they could get the rest of the shots they needed.
We then headed to the dugout to wait for Ichiro. It was the middle of summer in Georgia so it was about 8000 degrees!
Working around professional athlete’s schedules can be difficult, but add in the variable factor of the weather, and it can make for an even more challenging day. When Ichiro finally arrived, it was right as he needed to start warming up.
We had to scrap our initial shot list and work on the fly getting as many shots as we could without being able to direct Ichiro. I had my two assistants cross light and move with me as I captured as many different looks as I could while he warmed up. It wasn’t at all what we had planned for but we were able to get some great shots.
In the end, the images came out great! Several of them were used in Mizuno’s social media and their website leading up to Ichiro’s 3000 hit milestone.
I’m a lifelong HUGE baseball fan. The whole experience was my favorite part of the project. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer day than at a ballpark. Add in a little photo shoot with one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game and it was a pretty good day.
See more of Ryan at ryangibsonphotography.com!